Make B2B Buying Easy: A Prescriptive Approach to Marketing

Prescriptive selling in B2B has received a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. Over the last decade, vast quantities of digital information have empowered B2B buyers to comprehensively research new and complex solutions. Buyers control their journey more than ever, gathering information from a variety of channels and only contacting vendors well into the later stages of the sales funnel. Marketers continuously churn out content, working to educate and influence their presumably voracious audience. But in truth, this tide of unending information — combined with a buying process that likely includes multiple stakeholders with divergent interests — is paradoxically overwhelming buyers attempting to make purchasing decisions for their organizations.

In The New Sales Imperative (2017), the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) presents prescriptive selling as the antidote for B2B buyer fatigue. Rather than responding to buyers with more information that may perplex or stall their efforts, prescriptive sellers give clear, actionable recommendations and explanations. Taking a prescriptive sales approach puts buyers first and demystifies the unfamiliar territory they often navigate en route to deciding on a new business solution. It enables the buyer to make a decision confidently, and can be highly influential in the 1:1 context of sales where the customer is typically on the threshold of making a purchasing decision.

But what does ‘being prescriptive’ mean for marketing, where the focus might be top-of-the-funnel awareness-building, and trust has not yet been built between the brand and buyer? How can marketing teams demystify B2B buying in the early stages of purchasing? Let’s explore what being prescriptive entails for marketers and what can be done to make B2B buying easy.

Make B2B Buying Easy Through a Prescriptive Approach to Marketing

Taking a prescriptive approach to B2B marketing entails having a deeper understanding of the buyer journey and the types of content required to simplify the task of purchasing. With this approach, the buyer has control over which content to consume, skim, or skip as they proceed in their decision-making. Less may be more: many prospects lack the time it takes to read through long white papers or sit through a 45 minute webinar. This doesn’t mean that the content you have already created has lost value — for example, you can repurpose sections from a white paper to create shorter articles. Save longer, “beefier” pieces of content for buyers further along in their journey who are willing to invest time in learning about your solution.

Re-imagining the Buyer Journey Through a Prescriptive Lens

While companies should have a comprehensive account of their own buyer’s journeys, there are common barriers that most buyers encounter as they make a purchase. The CEB elucidates some of the common impediments that slow down the purchasing process at early, mid, and late stages. In our view, the early and mid stages are most significant to marketers considering a prescriptive approach. The chart below summarizes the CEB stages and impediments, and aligns them with roles we feel marketing should play in helping buyers work through those obstacles.

Transfer the ‘Light Bulb’ Moment to your Buyers

Originally published on by Zee Jeremic, CEO of MASS Engines.

MASS Engines enables brands to engage modern buyers. We build adaptive systems and facilitate productive sales conversations that fuel ongoing revenue growth.